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Pensacola has name recognition. Generally when we say we are from
Pensacola we do not have to say Pensacola, Florida. Most people know
that Pensacola is in Florida. In addition to being the residence of
an eclectic group of individuals (heaven only knows where they come
from) that are Hell-bent on making National News, Pensacola is noted
for the sugar white beaches, Pensacola Christian College and the Naval
Aviation Museum. In the past decade or so Pensacola was home to
several abortion clinic bombings (we have been a hot-bed for
individuals protesting abortion), we also were the town where
different individuals actually shot abortion doctors. One time with a
shotgun the other incident was with a pistol. Two years ago a shark
at Ft. Pickens attacked a boy. The incident made national news for
weeks. Last year two young boys beat their father to death with a
baseball bat. The trial made national news for weeks. Not long ago a
Grand Jury indicted 4 of 5 County Commissioners. The Governor removed
them from office. All have either been found guilty or pleaded
guilty. Without the guilty verdicts the good people from around here
would have put them back in office. It is just the kind of place we
are. Go figure.

Pensacola also produces some "good" individuals. It is home to some
of the best athletes in North America. Emmit Smith (the league's
career rushing leader) of the Dallas Cowboys, Derrick Brooks (2002 NFL
Defensive Player of the Year) of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Roy
Jones one of the best professional boxers ever.

Notably, Pensacola is the site of the very first European settlement
on the North American continent. A group of Spaniards set up a colony
here in 1559, then a bad hurricane hit and the would-be colonists lost
all their supplies and many of their ships. After nearly starving
they were rescued. If not for the unfortunate hurricane Pensacola
would be what Charleston, SC and St. Augustine, FL are. The
colonization efforts in those communities were not devastated by a
hurricane and were both successful. I think St. Augustine lays claim
to being "America's oldest city" as it was colonized in 1565.

Pensacola is situated on a large Bay that in certain eras was busier
than New York harbor. Imagine that! The Navy has always had a
presence in Pensacola especially that part of the Navy that has to do
with aviation. It is home to the "Blue Angels" public relations team.
The "Blue Angels" practice aboard the Naval Air station when they are
in town. Check for schedules when you arrive. The Naval Aviation
Museum is also located on the base. This is not a fly-by-night joint;
it is truly a "National Museum" on the order of Smithsonian. Don't
miss it if you are in the area.

Pensacola's association with the navy is truly close. It is
recognized as the "Cradle of Naval Aviation" as well as the
"Mother-in-Law of the Navy". The "Cradle of Naval Aviation" moniker
is self-explanatory. It is where it began! The affectionate
"Mother-in-Law of the Navy" moniker has a ton of truth associated with
it. Young men fresh from college have arrived in Pensacola for both
Officer training and Pilot training. The pilot training takes up to a
year. These young officers were good "catches" for any of the local
belles. The movie "Officer and a Gentleman" was about the life of a
young naval officer and how a local girl pursued him. The Navy would
not allow it to be filmed on base (they thought it would be
derogatory) so filmmakers filmed it at an old base in California. I
think the military has learned to make better decisions these days, at
least when it comes to the filmmakers.

Now for my recommendations of what to see and do in Pensacola:

Pensacola has several places to visit that are not normal tourist
fare. Some of my favorites are:

Take a trip to Joe Patti's seafood. Located on the corner of Main and
"A" street near downtown Pensacola. They have taken the term "Seafood
Market" to a higher level. Fresh seafood is the order of the day.
>From squid to crawfish and everything in between is available. Fresh
shrimp are probably the cheapest you will find anywhere. If you are
into scallops always get the bay scallops; they are the small ones.
Smaller equals better in this case. Two fish that are excellent
choices along the Gulf coast are Scamp, which is a member of the
Grouper family and Trigger fish. Both have sweet white meat.
Triggerfish is great for grilling since the filets are firm and will
stay together. You will also be able to get some unique items in
their specialty store like fresh sourdough bread, Greek and Cajun
entrees and spices. Joe Patti's is very much like Pike's Street
Market in Seattle as far as the atmosphere goes. Go there prepared to
take home some culinary delights.

My favorite Cajun restaurant in the area is Whistler's Walk, located
on Hwy, 98 about 5 miles east of down town Gulf Breeze. Whistler's
Walk is a small place, owned by two sisters from Louisiana's Cajun
country. Their Momma taught them how to cook. The Friday night
special includes Crawfish pie that is to die for. The chicken and
sausage gumbo and crawfish Etouffee is equally as good. There are
more Cajun dishes on the menu; these are just my favorites. Try
anything on the menu, it is guaranteed good. The nightly specials
change and are the dishes I prefer. As of late summer 2003 things
have changed at this restaurant although they continue to have GOOD
Cajun food

Another good Cajun restaurant is Jerry's Cajun Restaurant on north 9th
avenue just a few blocks north of Cordova Mall.

The Pensacola Beach Marina, located ¼ mile south of the toll bridge to
Pensacola Beach the marina is the second business located on the right
or west side of the street. The Pensacola Beach Marina is home to
most of the areas charter boats. Visit the marina around 4:00 in the
afternoon and watch the charter fleet return with their catch. There
is always action around the "cleaning table" as the catch is cleaned
and readied for the trip back home. Later you can shop for groceries
on the 2nd floor, it is an odd place for a grocery store but it is
"the grocery store" on the beach. Then ease up to the 3rd floor and
dine in the restaurant while watching the sun go down over Pensacola
Bay and Little Sabine. Additionally, if you can get a seat on the
south end of the room you can view the top of a live oak tree that has
traditionally been the nesting tree for the island's population of
little green herons. Since you are on the 3rd floor you get a "birds
eye" view of this rookery. The marina is also a good place to rent
bicycles for a ride up and down the islands bike paths.

If you are interested in birds there is a tern and skimmer nesting
area just south of the toll bridge onto Pensacola Beach. The terns
and skimmers build their nest in the dredge spoil area that you will
see just south of the water tanks, which are located at the toll
bridge. The best way to view this area is to proceed in your vehicle
past the nesting area to one of the parking lots not far up the road
then walk back. These birds do not nest year around but you should
have a good opportunity to view them in early to mid-summer. Another
nesting area for terns and plovers is along the National Seashore just
past the entrance gate to Ft. Pickens National Park.

You can take a drive between Pensacola Beach and Navarre. The 18-mile
strip is one of the Nations Scenic Drives. Also take a drive from
Pensacola Beach to Ft. Pickens. Don't stop at the National Park
entrance, pay the entry fee and drive to "Old Ft. Pickens" about
9-miles into the park. Ft. Pickens was home to Geronimo back in the
1800's and a darker era of our nations history. Each time Pensacola
experiences a hurricane within a hundred miles or so the road to Ft.
Pickens and Navarre is washed away. Look along the roadside and you
can see where past storms have strewn the sugar white sand with pieces
of asphalt.

Many ospreys' nest on the Naval Air Station in Pensacola. The Naval
Air Station is not a normal military base. It is open to the public.
There is a National Cemetery, a National Park (FT. Barrancas), and a
National Museum of Naval Aviation on board. Anyone can go to these
places. All you have to do is tell the guard on the gate you are
going to the National Cemetery or the Museum and they will wave you on
through. Osprey nests are on nesting platforms literally all over the
base. Some locations are as follows: There is a cluster of radio
antennae towers located south of the golf course and north of the
National Cemetery. This spot is marked by an intersection with a
traffic light. The nests are on the Northwest corner of this
intersection. Look for piles of sticks high on these towers. There
are three to 5 different nests in this group of towers. Just west of
the Navy bank is a telephone building that has a nesting platform
located in the parking lot behind the building. This is located west
of the bank and before the golf course. Another nesting platform is
located ½ mile west of the Naval Aviation Museum, across the street
from the entrance to Oak Grove RV Park. Another nesting platform is
located on the south side of the road very near the back gate. If
you pay attention you will spot others.

National Museum of Naval Aviation & IMAX Theatre: Located on Naval Air
Station Pensacola in South West Pensacola. This Museum is 10th in the
state of Florida for number of visitors. You should see this if you
are in the area for a few days.

While visiting the Naval Air Station do not miss the view from the
Lighthouse restaurant. This restaurant is located across the street
from the National Museum of Naval Aviation on board NAS Pensacola.
The food is nothing to write home about. The VIEW you will remember
forever. The best time to visit this restaurant is from lunch through
mid afternoon when the sun is at its zenith making the view most
memorable. The large viewing windows across the entire backside of
this restaurant face Pensacola Pass where Pensacola Bay enters the
Gulf of Mexico. The beautiful blue green water and the ship traffic
into and out of the harbor are worth a sandwich for the family. You
could also opt for the lunch buffet, which is available for around
$6.00. Remember you are here for the VIEW, not the food. With that
said there would be nothing wrong with the food.

Wildlife Sanctuary of NW Florida located at 105 N "S" street
850-433-9453 is the area's home and rehabilitation site for injured
and disabled wildlife. Although not a real zoo this place has many
local animals and birds on display that you would not normally see at
a ZOO.

If you happen through to be here during the spring or fall there is
bird banding taking place at Ft. Morgan, Alabama west of Pensacola.
To get to Ft. Morgan you first need to get to Gulf Shores, Alabama
then take the road west until you get to the end (approximately 20
miles). Plan to spend some time at this activity. From April 1
through 15 and again October 7 through 21 the Humming Bird Society
conducts bird banding at the Fort Morgan site from dawn till the birds
thin out each day. They target neo-tropical migrants as they either
gather for their journey across the Gulf of Mexico in the fall or
literally fall out of the sky exhausted from their trip back in the
spring. This is an up close and personal experience. The people
doing the banding will let you walk the nets with them and explain
everything they do. As spectators you may even get to hold a bird
then release it, after it has been banded, of course. If you are a
birder this is something to experience. All birds being banded can be
viewed from very close range. When you get to view them at this close
range you can easily see all of the markings that are shown in the
identification guides. These same markings would be nearly impossible
to see as these small birds flit around in the treetops. If you stay
around until late in the afternoon why not make dinner plans for the
restaurant located at the marina just before you get to Fort Morgan.
This restaurant is located adjacent to the marina. The food is good
and the sun set from the 2nd story windows is worth going out of your
way for. This place is NOT expensive, if you want expensive you can
find those back in Gulf Shores. What it does have is an unbeatable
sunset dining experience at a super price. It is less than 5 minutes
away from the bird banding activity. I might add that there are many
campgrounds in Gulf Shores, including many mom and pops as well as
Gulf States State Park. For more information on the bird banding
activity contact Bob Sargent at 205-681-2888.

Champion paper mill just north of Pensacola offers a plant tour.

The Vietnam Memorial or Wall South:
Located near down town Pensacola on the waterfront between the bridge
to Gulf Breeze and downtown proper is the Wall South a replica of the
Vietnam Memorial in Washington D. C. When you are driving down bay
front parkway look for the Vietnam era army helicopter on display.
Parking is on the North side of the memorial. This memorial was
conceived and paid for by Vietnam era veterans. The Wall South is
located about a half mile west of the bridge to Gulf Breeze on
Pensacola bay.

Visitors Center:
The local visitor's center is located at the North End of the bridge
to Gulf Breeze.

Fishing bridges & Piers:
The old bridge from Pensacola to Gulf Breeze has been converted into a
fishing pier. Actually, there are two fishing piers, one on the north
side and one on the south side. You can fish in Florida's salt water
with no license as long as you are on land. You must have a salt
water-fishing license if you fish from a boat in Florida's salt water.
Everyone must have a license to fish in Florida's fresh water. There
are tackle shops in Gulf Breeze and at the north end of the fishing
pier that will help you with bait and the appropriate terminal tackle.

The old bridge from Gulf Breeze to Pensacola Beach is open to public
fishing. You can enter these fishing spots from either side of the
current bridge.

The Pensacola Beach fishing Pier is an area favorite.

The fishing pier at Fort Pickens is another favorite.

Barkley House 410 S. Florida Blanca. An early 19th century home built
around 1825 and the oldest brick building standing in Pensacola. It
is the last of the area's Creole high houses.

Civil War Soldiers Museum 108 S. Palafox Place. The museum features
an array of artifacts, including one of the nation's largest medical
collections. There is a film "Pensacola in the Civil War"

National Museum of Naval Aviation on Naval Air Station Pensacola.
This free museum is one of the best museums in the country. Exhibits
range from biplanes and blimps to space age aircraft. An IMAX theatre
is located in the museum.

Native Paths Cultural Heritage and Resource Center 400 S. Alcaniz St.
This is a Native American museum filled with prehistoric artifacts and
American Indian artwork.

Pensacola Historical Resource Center 117 E. Government St.

Pensacola Historical Museum 115 E. Zaragoza St. Exhibits on
Pensacola's history cover the early American Indians, military and
maritime history.

Quina House 204 S. Alcaniz St. One of Pensacola's oldest houses
standing on its original site. The 1 & 1/2 -story structure is an
example of the Creole (Spanish-French, 1810-1830) architecture of this

T.T. Wentworth Jr., Florida State Museum, and Historic Pensacola
Village located in Plaza Ferdinand, Downtown Pensacola. Living
History Demonstrations on Saturdays.

University of West Florida Archaeology Institute. Artifacts from
Archaeological sites in northwest Florida.

Flea Markets,

I am not a flea market person so I cannot share much information on
the subject other than to tell you that there two rather large flea
markets in the area. Saturday is the BIG day in both of these places.
Directions follow: The T & W Flea Market located as the name says
between T Street and W street. Yes it stretches for blocks! T Street
and W street run north and south. The flea market is located south of
Fairfield drive and North of Cervantes Street. On some maps Cervantes
street will be alternate hwy 90. The other Flea Market is located
across from the ZOO on hwy. 98 between Gulf Breeze and Navarre. My
guess is that it is approximately 10 miles east of Gulf Breeze.

====== Nightlife:

The Reef is a quaint little beach bar on Perdido Key about a ½ mile
south of the Intercoastal Waterway Bridge where the road to Alabama
turns from South to West. Another way to describe its location is at
the Johnson Beach cutoff.

Farther down this road on the Florida Alabama border is a large bar
known as the Flora-Bama. It is a well-patronized establishment that
has loads of entertainment. This place is a favorite of the LA (Lower
Alabama) crowd. Keep your eyes open you will see the Flora-Bama on
the Gulf of Mexico straddling the state line. On summer weekends
there will be off duty police helping with traffic around this place.
Stuff magazine named the Flora-Bama as one of the 20-best dives in the
Country in its January 2003 edition. That should tell you it is one
of those places that you should experience.

Seville Quarter in downtown Pensacola is a large establishment with a
large variety of activities. They also have several restaurants in
the complex.

On Pensacola Beach Peg Leg Pete's is a favorite with locals as is the
Sandshaker. Pensacola Beach also has Hooters. As you might imagine
Hooters is known more for the (delightfully tacky) good looking wait
staff than their food.

====== Restaurants:

Restaurants are something that is highly personal. What is absolutely
wonderful to one is detestable to someone else. With that said here
are some that I recommend along with "My Comments".

Three Pensacola restaurants are featured in "Road Food" a wildly
popular book describing the best "local" food around the country.
Jerry's Drive Inn on East Cervantes street, The Coffee Cup also on
East Cervantes street and Hopkins House are "Road Food's" suggestions.
I totally agree. They are three unique and definitely local

Hopkins House close to downtown Pensacola is a local favorite and
something every tourist should experience. To put it bluntly it is a
landmark it is a tradition. Hopkins House is a boarding house where
the restaurant continues to operate in typical boarding house style.
When you arrive there is a good chance you will be seated with some
other folks so that you fill up a large table. Of course if you
arrive with a table full then you get your own table. Once seated
food starts arriving in huge "no-bottom" serving bowls. They feature
Southern "home-style" cooking like grandma used to fix. It is located
at 900 N. Spring Street in Pensacola's North Hill Historic District,
only a few blocks from the downtown business district. When in
Pensacola this is a "must-experience". Because of their rather funky
hours I suggest you call first 850-438-3979.

The Coffee Cup is a breakfast and lunch place. The food is nothing to
write home about in my opinion but it is THE place where everyone goes
to socialize and be seen. Everyone who is anyone in Pensacola will
make a regular appearance in this place.

Jerry's Drive Inn is a place that is firmly rooted in Pensacola
History. It originated in an era of "drive-inns" the places where
cute waitresses would come to your car and get your order and the
owners lived above the business. Waitresses no longer work the
parking lot but burgers and daily specials are still served inside.
Like the Coffee Cup Jerry's is a local hangout. Successive
generations of locals introduce their children to their childhood
hangout. Now it is not uncommon for it to be three or more
generation's favorite place. Their burgers even win awards.

Now that the "Local Road Food" places have been covered let's look at
other options:

After experiencing "local hangouts" you should take advantage of the
FRESH seafood. Some local restaurants are better than others. These
are my favorites:

Chet's located on Navy Blvd. in Pensacola and also in Pace, FL on hwy
90 just east of the bridge over the Escambia River. A local favorite
is mullet. Chet's knows how to prepare fried mullet and is known for
catching their own.

Slip's restaurant is located near downtown Pensacola at 1500 Barrancas
Ave (near "H" street). This is NO place to plan a fancy family outing
to, but for lunch they have a superb fried grouper basket. Warning,
this is a hole in the wall place. Weekdays they do a booming business
with the downtown crowd, lawyers, judges etc., for lunch. The grouper
basket is SUPER, the atmosphere & ambience is lacking unless you are
into people watching.

Joe Patti's seafood deli located 610 South "C" Street near downtown
Pensacola. During the summer they do a good business with mullet
lunches. They also have a variety of other seafood dishes with their
fixings coming from their own seafood market. This is a LUNCH only
place no dinner.

Oyster Bar restaurant located on the corner of hwy 98 and Navy Blvd.
in western Pensacola. This is a nice place for the whole family with
a good seafood menu. This is more of a mid-scale dining experience.

The Perdido Key Oyster Bar and Marina is located approximately 5 miles
west of the back gate to the Naval Air Station. The Restaurant and
Marina is located on the Intercoastal Waterway (ICW), at the foot of
the Intercoastal Waterway Bridge from the mainland to Perdido Key.
The Marina is home to a number of charter and sport fishing boats.
They have terrific seafood, and you can sit and watch tugs and barges
go right past the windows on the ICW. The Restaurant is well known
and normally crowded. Be prepared to sign up for seating and then
take a stroll around the docks while waiting for a table. Take the
first road to the east on the south side of the bridge to get to the
Marina and Restaurant parking lot. Enjoy.

Approximately 2 miles West of Naval Air Station Pensacola off Gulf
Beach Highway is Rusty's. It is a rustic seafood restaurant, which
has both inside and outside dining. Vista views to the South treat
diners to activity on the Intracoastal Waterway, a marina across the
street, and the barrier island (Perdido Key) just south. Rusty's
started out years ago as an open air $1.00 all you could eat fried
mullet, hush puppies, and slaw place where the locals congregated to
feast on these great Southern menu items. It was moved a few hundred
feet to the present site, which is much larger and partly inside.
This area of the ICW is broad and open, and there is a steady stream
of two-way boat traffic going past.


When our 30-year old Daughter-in-Law saw the three restaurants "Road
Food" featured for Pensacola she could not believe it. If she would
have written the book her three selections would have been: McGuire's
Irish Pub and Brewery near downtown, The Fish House even closer to
downtown, and Flounders on Pensacola Beach. She made three very good
selections. Each is a top-notch establishment with a great business.
The basic difference, as I see it is PRICE. The "Road Food"
selections featured meals from $5 to $7 where these places feature
entrees starting at $12 and heading higher rapidly so I am going to
categorize them as:

"Renowned and or High-end eating establishments".

McGuire's Irish Pub & Brewery:
McGuire's is a great high-end eating establishment. The Pub's front
walls have evolved into a makeshift shrine to celebrities, politicians
and athletes who have dined there. Names include Al Gore, Jimmy Page,
Robert Plant, Brooke Shields, John McCain, Harry Connickle Jr., Janet
Jackson, Lewis Grizzard, Mary Stewart Masterson, Roy Jones Jr. and
Sugar Ray Leonard. Most memorabilia is framed with a photo. When
newcomers walk into the lobby, their eyes immediately go to the
dangling greenbacks, over $225,000 signed and dated dollar bills,
stapled to the walls and ceiling. Some must touch the money to make
sure it's real. It is a sensory reaction when one sees that many
dollar bills stapled to the wall. At tax time the IRS categorizes the
signed bills as gifts from customers and as such they must be
reported. To tackle the job each year employee's section off an area
and actually count each bill, using ladders to reach the bills on the
ceiling. This annual event has been featured on the "Today" show with
Katie Couric and Matt Lauer. The Today show crew filmed a
half-dozen-pub employees hand counting dollar bills. The actual count
takes five long days. The restaurant includes tons of memorabilia.
The establishment has great food and is listed as one of the top 10
restaurants in Florida. The place also has a brewery where beer is
made. If you want to experience this place on the "cheap" you could
get a hamburger and coke for around $7.00. That is an expensive
hamburger, however, it is BIG and comes with fries. It will be
difficult to eat the whole thing.

Fish House Restaurant:
Located on the water in downtown Pensacola the Fish House Restaurant
caters to the areas "movers & shakers". The 30-something crowd of
lawyers, doctors and others with good cash flow frequents the place.
They like to say their cuisine is Southern with a Pacific Rim
influence. Some of the hip-hop crowd enjoys the Sushi Bar.

Flounder's on Pensacola Beach is a favorite. It is expensive but it
is a favorite. They serve mostly seafood. My Daughter-in-Law could
tell you all about it. If I want seafood I am going to get it fresh
at some other joint charging about ¼ the price.

Angus Steak House:
Located on Scenic Highway is probably the best bet for "high-end"

Located on Scenic Highway is a renowned white tablecloth
establishment. This is the restaurant where Presidents and such dine
while in town.

Buffets: Try one of the Barnhill's Country Buffet's. There are
three in the area. Very good buffets with a wide variety of
vegetables, salad fixin's, fruits, deserts, meats, and drinks! All
you can eat for $6.50.

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